Third Annual Hiroshima AJET Fundraiser: Sanbien Children’s Home (子供の家三美園)

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On Friday, June 27th, Hiroshima’s JET Program ALTs will host their Third Annual Hiroshima AJET Fundraiser, in Hiroshima city at Southern Cross from 7:00- 9:00 pm. This year all proceeds and donations will be given directly to the Sanbien Children’s Home (子供の家三美園). In addition, a portion of the proceeds will be allocated to Sarah Hiscock, which will be used to fund ALT visits to Sanbien Children’s Home. Sanbien is located on the north side of Onomichi, near Kurihara Kita Elementary School. There are a wide range of kids living at the home, ages ranging anywhere from 4 years old up to 17 years old.

The first visit made by ALT volunteers was in February 2010. We are happy to say that these visits are still going strong thanks to our dedicated volunteers. However, recently the donations, made through Smile Kids Japan, used to fund basic visit costs have run out. Instead our own Hiroshima ALT volunteers have been paying for the supplies required for each visit themselves. The things needed for each visit include monthly birthday cakes, prizes for competitions, materials for arts and crafts, toy and clothing drives, Santa suits… the list goes on the cost continues to add up.

While contributing to visit supplies may seem trivial when it comes to aiding children who are missing a family. That is not the mission of these visits, we’ll never be able to replace the family that these children are missing. However, there is a lot of good these small items and visits can do for a child. By giving our time and effort to make a connection, the children are at least temporarily reassured that someone is out there who cares and has not forgotten them.

As ALTs, we plod along through our daily routines, forging ahead in and out of the office, giving all we can to our students. In this way we are made to feel that we are giving back to the community on a daily basis. But, while of course we are giving back in a way, lets not beat around the bush; it is our job. The effort we put into teaching is massive. But as ALTs, we also have an underlying un-said job duty. Which is to take on the role of an ambassador, to give back to this country which has given us so much, to communicate, share, and open up to others through cultural exchange. At times we can get bogged down by the effort we make in the classroom and thus return to resting on our laurels, thinking to ourselves “I’ve done enough for Japan.” But, I’d like to charge all of you to reconsider… what have you really done, is it all you can do? Please come and join us in our effort to make a difference within our local Hiroshima community (and bring a friend!).

Message from Sarah Hiscock, Leader of Sanbien ALT Visits:

“The children at the Sanbien Children’s Home in Onomichi are all there for different reasons. Some have family who, for a number of reasons, are unable to provide adequate care for their child. Others are without family altogether.  Some are at Sanbien temporarily and others permanently. Legally in Japan it’s quite difficult to sever parental rights, which makes the process of adoption a lengthy and sometimes impossible task. This, unfortunately, results in many children spending their youth in institutional care at homes such as Sanbien.

I started volunteering on the Hiroshima ALT trips to Sanbien Children’s Home when I moved to Fuchu in 2010. Instantly I was struck by how happy the children were to see us when we rolled up for the visit. Sanbien is a great children’s home. Recently re-built, the kids now have a fantastic living and play area, as well as a team of incredible staff who work their hardest to make sure the children lead comfortable and happy lives during their time at Sanbien.

Our visits add just that little bit of excitement to the month. We aim to visit every month and go armed with birthday cakes, crafts, fun and games. Our one and only aim is for the kids to have as much fun as possible for the two hours that we spend there. Recently, our funds have run out. We have been relying solely on funding from our team of dedicated volunteers. Not much is needed to make an impact on the children at Sanbien, so any donations received from this Hiroshima AJET fundraiser will keep us going for long time. In the future, we also hope to provide something extra like a summer festival for the Sanbien kids, the funds raised from this event will make this possible.”

If you would like more information on visiting or making a donation to Sanbien please contact: kokorohiroshima@gmail.com